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Aaron Yang

High school Mathematics teacher,

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Do we need "losers" to have "winners" in life?

I have recently decided to pursue a career in education and am trying to prepare myself for the upcoming school year. Some of my fears include dispassionate students and the diverse learning curve in a classroom. Although I am wholly optimistic and seeing the best in everyone, I know others will not see the same way. This got me thinking about the success of every individual on this planet.

For there to be winners/successful people, there must be others taking the hit. My question is, do we need to have this structure of successful and non-successful people in the world? Would it be possible for global happiness if everyone received the same goods and services, such as in communism?

Others will argue that different individuals are content with different levels of prosperity. But, at their levels of contentedness will the world remain stable? Say one individual is content with being a gardener after completing 5 years of grade school, whereas another individual is content with being a surgeon after completing 25 years of schooling.

In our society, do we let the unmotivated fall, so the ambitious can rise? Or should we uphold an optimistic approach of everyone becoming successful and prosperous, is this possible?

EDIT::: perhaps this would be more clear.

"If everyone gave their best at whatever they choose, would there be a niche for everyone in society?"

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    Feb 7 2013: Hi Aaron,

    This is a question I have been struggling with a lot recently, so I appreciate you forming this TED conversation. I think you raise a couple of ideas that are worth discussing.

    First, you mention money and while I realize this was not your definition of success, the issue of wealth distribution in our world is very apparent. While having money doesn't necessarily mean you are happy, NO ONE is happy living in extreme poverty, or in poverty at all. With that being said, we can see that people do live in unfortunate circumstances today that are completely out of their control. This does not mean that the wealthy shouldn't get wealthier, but at the same time if it is 2012 and more than 50% of the population live on less than 1500 a year we are doing something wrong as a global society.

    I wonder if this means that we are focusing immensely more on the success of few individuals rather than the happiness of the greater community.

    Having the terms "losers" and "winners" just goes to show how far our society is from serving the needs of most people. Clearly, these terms are subjective. Moreover, I find it impossible to define a person as either a "winner" or "loser"...I find human beings to be more valuable than to be reduced to fit one of two narrowly defined terms. I think we need to be okay with not labeling everything, especially human beings.

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